Staffing Client Blog | Jun 19 2023

Top 5 green flags when hiring a dietitian 

Hiring a dietitian can be challenging, especially if you’re not a dietitian yourself. Other than the typical “good employee” traits, what qualities should you look for in a dietitian? Here are some of the lesser-known green flags that let you know when a dietitian deserves a job offer. 

  1. Eagerness to learn. Nutrition is a science-based discipline and is always evolving. New recommendations, medications, supplements, and products emerge every day. Do you want a dietitian who has a strong knowledge base? Absolutely! But you also want a dietitian who knows how to learn and is eager to stay up to date with the latest clinical practices. Knowing is great; knowing how to learn is even better. 
  1. Good communicator. Is your interviewee communicating and answering your questions clearly and confidently? Believe it or not, most of what a dietitian does is communication. Dietitians talk to patients and clients, communicating nutrition recommendations to them. They also communicate with other healthcare colleagues to discuss a patient’s plan of care. And they give inservice trainings to foodservice staff to communicate menu changes, safety regulations, and more.  
  1. Track record of being hands-on and involved. Let’s face it – there’s going to come a day when your cook is sick, it’s snowing outside, and the nutrition department has to rally together to get the patients’ meals served. Is your dietitian going to pitch in? Or the hospital is starting a new glycemic task force and wants the dietitian involved. Are they eager to help out or shirk this extra responsibility? If COVID taught us anything, it’s that sometimes the going gets tough. But healthcare workers are resilient, and the best ones go above and beyond for their patients. 
  1. Can build rapport. A short interview can be a difficult time to truly gauge someone’s personality. But as best as you can, try to determine if this dietitian can engage with other people. Do they make eye contact? Crack a joke here and there? Do they seem down-to-earth? Building rapport with others is how your dietitian will succeed with their clients. Dietitians can be great advocates for patients in more ways than one. Being able to build trust with patients is essential to providing the best care. 
  1. Calm under pressure. Food service and healthcare are two stressful work environments. Many times, the dietitian is the face of the entire nutrition department. Facility staff and patients may never see any other employee from the food and nutrition department. So, when breakfast was cold and the floor stock order was delivered late, the dietitian oftentimes fields those complaints and is on the hook for service recovery. To find out how well your interviewee does under pressure, pose a situation-based interview question, and see how they answer. 

Be prepared the next time you’re hiring a dietitian. Use these tips to help you sift through the so-so selections and find your next superstar. Need help hiring? Dietitians On Demand provides nationwide dietitian staffing for temporary and permanent hiring. Submit your request today.  

Sara Glanz, registered dietitian

About Sara Glanz

Sara Glanz, MS, RD, LD, CNSC worked as a traveling dietitian for Dietitians On Demand for two years before joining the corporate team. In her current role as Director of Clinical Education, she has championed the continuing education program to empower dietitians everywhere to achieve their professional goals.

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